White Coat and Pinning Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2027
The air was filled with excitement and anticipation as the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Class of 2027 gathered for the fifth annual John G. Clarkson White Coat and Freshman Pinning Ceremony. The event marked the start of the students’ medical school journey and celebrated their dedication, perseverance and commitment to the noble field of medicine.
Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, extended a warm welcome to the class and the many friends and family who attended the special occasion.
“Your journey in medicine will transform and equip you with the necessary tools to exert the greatest impact on the lives of others,” Dean Ford said. “The future of our noble profession depends on your relentless pursuit of excellence, your commitment to lifelong learning and teamwork. We are confident that your Miller School education will prepare you for all challenges ahead.”
This year’s class boasts the highest GPA and MCAT scores in the school’s history, with an average GPA of 3.8 and an average MCAT score of 515. The students hail from 24 states and 60 undergraduate institutions. Fifty-five percent are women, 61% are minorities and 31% are minorities underrepresented in medicine.
Among these students is Michael Ugarov, an M.D. candidate from the University of Washington, whose inspiration to become a physician originated from a deeply personal experience — the loss of close friend.
“His passing made me realize the fragility and preciousness of life. Serving others by healing and promoting well-being isn’t just a career choice; it’s a calling,” said Ugarov. “I truly believe there’s no greater way to honor my time on this earth than to ensure others can live longer, healthier and more meaningful lives.”
Significance of the White Coat
Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., president of the University of Miami, congratulated the Class of 2027 and encouraged them to uphold the fundamental principles of care, compassion and adaptability.
“Donning the white coat symbolizes your commitment to the virtues of courage, care and great compassion,” President Frenk said. “I look forward to seeing you build your expertise and earn the trust the white coat symbolizes.”
Latha Chandran, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., executive dean for education, chair of the Department of Medical Education and professor, followed suit, addressing the challenging yet rewarding journey ahead.
“As you receive your white coats, it marks a change from a layperson to becoming a physician-in-training,” Dr. Chandran said. “It’s a privilege to hear the innermost concerns of our patients, receive their absolute trust and provide the best possible care for them.”
Keynote Address Inspires the Class to Achieve the Extraordinary
This year’s keynote speaker was Hansel Tookes, M.D. ‘14, M.P.H., associate professor of medicine and clinical director of the IDEA Exchange. He shared how he helped redefine public health in Florida by establishing the first needle exchange program in the state. It was a journey that included years of testifying before the state legislature as a medical student, as a resident and, finally, as a Miller School faculty member.
Dr. Tookes reminded the class that they have the power to transform the world. He encouraged unwavering dedication, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and a commitment to improving the well-being of humanity.
“Power lies in those who dare to dream,” Dr. Tookes said. “This coat is not just a piece of fabric but a mantle of responsibility and a symbol of your commitment to medicine. You have an incredible journey ahead. Believe in yourself and trust your training.”
Donning the White Coat
One after another, members of the Class of 2027 took to the stage to don their new white coats, generously provided by Miller School alumni who understand the significance of support during medical school. The Miller School’s Medical Alumni Association, along with other benefactors, also gifted each student with Miller-branded stethoscopes. As a time-honored tradition, students with family members who are Miller School alumni received lapel pins, fostering a connection between the school’s graduates and its current students.
Raksha Narasimhan, an M.D./M.P.H. candidate who graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, hopes to advance equitable access and quality of care for the most vulnerable communities. She is eager to get started.
“The environment at Miller is wonderful; I’ve already met such kind, supportive and inspiring peers and faculty members,” Narasimhan said. “I’m also excited to meet and work with Miami’s incredibly diverse patient population.”